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04-21-2004, 08:33 PM
  #1
hubofhockey
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KPD -- Checking In

Hello LF'ers --

Based on that gigantic thread, re: Joe, Ch. 7, and my Monday column in the Globe, I thought I'd share some thoughts. Quite honestly, though, my suspicion is that some of you are so aggravated, that what I have to say--because it's quite redundant--truly won't appease you.
Nonetheless:

As I state very high in the column -- and I am going by memory here, without copy in hand--there were two VERY UNIQUE circumstances that framed my decision to write the column.
No. 1 -- This was Game 7 vs. Canadiens (perhaps you heard). The captain is the face of the franchise. Here in Boston, as in many cities, the team asks a lot of the captain. In Joe's case, he is the center of their marketing campaign. Ask youself this: when someone mentions the Bruins, who first comes to mind? If you're honest, I'll bet 90-percent or more of you say it's Joe.
Prior to a Game 7, it is customary that two people speak for the franchise -- the coach AND the captain. Sullivan made himself accessible. Thornton, as you know, did not. That is EXTREMELY UNUSUAL. I highly doubt that there would be another captain, anywhere in the NHL, who would not come out, and at least do the perfunctory. To wit: I haven't been good enough. All of us have to do better. We're going to give it hell tomorrow night.

Now, before I get to issue No. 2, I'll say this....I think enuf of Joe, both as a player and a person, that I might have let it slide. I knew he was in pain. In fact, I got a chuckle the day of Game 1 when others wrote that Joe looked pretty good in pactice. Pretty good?!? Yeow. I thought he was stiff and awkward, and I wrote that prior to game 1-- I described him looking as if he were a top-heavy bookcase. You can look that up. I made a mention to Grey's Anatomy.
Something you can't look up -- I wrote after Game 1 that I felt Joe was getting shots for a rib injury. The Globe deleted the comment, becz I couldn't source it (contrary to what some of you believe, we have ethics, we don't write thru half-cocked emotion). In this case, I had it, couldn't source it without a betraying a trust, and the decision was made to delete it. All I could do from there was hint at it--and made yet another reference later to the top-heavy bookcase.

Now, point No. 2 -- As I wrote in that Monday column, Joe had two team employees--both of them aware that some 30 media members awaited his captain's address--telling Joe the right thing to do was to address us. Not me, folks, that's US -- boston, montreal, US and Canadian media. Remember, he is the face of the franchise, paid $5.5 million, to do just such things. I can't tell you how long they tried to impress this fact upon Joe, but I'll bet it was some 20 minutes. Meanwile, we waited, talked to other players.
Ultimately, you know what happened: the captain of the franchised dissed the two team employees--professionals who are entrusted with a key PR component--and slid out the back door. I was among the many there, including the team employees, who were astounded.

Now, I am 51 years old, and by age out of touch with the way the world works in 2004. But in 30 years of reporting, I've never seen such disregard. Dissing the media, hey, fine. But his own team. That put it over the top for me. I simply couldn't imagine a guy in this city, againt archrival Monteal, blowing off the media AND his team.

A couple of more very important things I'd like to add.

In the Sunday Globe, for first and second editions (I am guessing, but maybe 250,000 papers), I wrote a pre-game column in which I said kudos to Joe for playing in pain. Personally, I thought the Jack Todd story in Saturday's Gazette: Thornton MVP: for the Habs, was over the top. I knew Joe was in pain, and like I said in that Sunday column, in the year 2004 not every guy sucks it up and plays. Joe deserved credit for that, and I gave it to him--while mentioning, too, that he remained ineffective in his point production.

Now, as for Monday...I reported to the Vault very early that morning....when you deal it out like I did Monday, you HAVE to be at the rink to face everyone. I was there, I think by 9:30 a.m. When the dressing room opened, I was among the first through the door, and remained there until they shooed us out at 11:30 am. Total time: 40 minutes.

Here's what happened: I made the rounds, chatted to players, and it went like most morning skates. No one confronted me. Not one of Joe's teammates came to me--dead center in the dressing room--and said a word. One very respected player, however, informed Nancy MB, my coworker, that he wanted to talk to me. I will withhold his name here. Anyway, I waited for other reporters to finish talking with Mr. X, and over I went. The first thing he told me was that he hadn't read the story. I said fine, but when he did read it, if he had any issues, let me know. I then gave him a quick synopsis, the crux of which was this:
I felt Joe, as captain of the Boston Bruins, in Game 7, should have addressed the media. Mr. X to me: You're right.
I said I didn't need to hear a Mark Messier here -- promiosing a Game 7 victory and a Cup parade, but I felt it was important for the team captain to respect the sweater, his teammates and the media, and say something -- even if only for 30 seconds. Mr. X to me: You're right.
I reitereated what I said in the piece, too: that Joe is a great talent, is humble, etc. Mr. X to me: You're right.

And that was it: I was there 40 minutes, and NO ONE SAID A WORD/

I'll also tell you that I saw Mike O'Connell a number of times that day, including the morning skate, and he was very pleasant. He never brouht up the column.

I'll leave it you, my fellow LF'ers, to draw your own conclusions based on their collective reactions.

It might be worth remembering--as I have in recent days--taht Joe was arrested last summer in Ont. for joining his brother in a barroom bustup. O'Connell later met with JOe, and other vets, and it was made clear to the other vets that they had to aid Joe in the leadership/captaincy thing this year.

All in all, the day before Game 7 was a huge moment for Joe--and for the franchise--and he was made aware of it. Frankly, the fact that he had to be made aware of that....well, again, draw your own conclusions. Against team advice, he booked.
As astounded as I was then--and remain so--I am equally astounded that so many people who suggest that they know hockey, and what it's about, believe I was out of bounds? But again, I can only surmise that it's an age thing.

I liken it to this in the real world: If a pal asks me to be his best man (and I've been so honored a few times), my immediate reaction is that I'm thrilled that this guy thought enuf of me to stand up for him. Then, to be honest, my stomach flips over because I know I have to do the dreaded toast. How I hate that. But, my pal has asked me to stand up there for him, and be the voice (and the face) of that one blessed moment in his life. So, of course, I swallow hard, and I do it. Frankly, I'd pay not to do the toast, but I do it.
Well, when the Bruins made Joe the captain, and gave him the position and the money, it was for times like that. There are times he has to talk. Frankly, it's not about talking to to the whiney self-centered, egomaniacal, hateful, disapassionate media. Quite to the contrary. It's caring enough about the sweater and the 19 other guys who have to wear it.

Hope that helps. Trust me, folks, after 30 years of this, I'm quite capable of writing a story without quotes. My final decision, as I drove home prior to writing, was based on this: I believed it, ergo I had to write it.

One last thing -- and I'm sorry, but you'r talking about my working life here -- in regard to the injury. Prior to the series, the Bruins only said Joe had an upperbody injury. Fine. As the series played out, they said he was better. Then he was much better. Then someone (and I'll admit, I don't have the someone here), said he was back near 100 percent. Then they lose, and we hear, what, he was on death's door. Well, I say: huh? The guy was playing 21 minutes. And the oddest thing of all: the better he got, the worse the team got. That does not translate to a team being inspired by the captain's gutsy play. Frankly, I can't figure how it translates. But I'll say this: when the team endeavors to be that deceptive about injuries and treatment, then it doesn't get everyone in the end to buy into the Big Hurt scenario. Just where are we supposed to dial into the deception? Sullivan quickly addressed that Monday night,after the loss, when he intiially said some comments aboout Joe were unfair. He said he could understand, becz not eveyone was aware. Well, again, who created that atmosphere? Not the media.

All for now. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. I'm willing to bet most of you take your careers very seriously. If any of you have read me regularly the last 25-30 years, I'm willing to bet that you know I don't practice hatchet journalism. I pride myself on balance and fair interpretation. When I feel I have to come down hard, I make sure I BELIEVE what I'm saying, that I'm justified, that I feel I am fair. IN that sense, when I do take someone to task, I feel it's far more believable than if I were writing 30, 40 or 50 of those a year.

For those of you still aching over the B's loss, sorry for your pain. I remember those days, as a kid, and they're no fun.

Best wishes for a great summer, kpd/hoh

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04-21-2004, 08:50 PM
  #2
John Flyers Fan
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I'm not a Bruins fan, but I appreciate your post above explaining your thoughts, feelings and some of you information.

I wish we had a writer like you to cover the team down hear in Philadelphia.

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04-21-2004, 08:52 PM
  #3
neelynugs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hubofhockey
It might be worth remembering--as I have in recent days--taht Joe was arrested last summer in Ont. for joining his brother in a barroom bustup. O'Connell later met with JOe, and other vets, and it was made clear to the other vets that they had to aid Joe in the leadership/captaincy thing this year.

All in all, the day before Game 7 was a huge moment for Joe--and for the franchise--and he was made aware of it. Frankly, the fact that he had to be made aware of that....well, again, draw your own conclusions. Against team advice, he booked.
dupes- i appreciate you taking the time to address this. my question to you is this-do you think that what joe did is worthy of being traded?

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Old
04-21-2004, 08:52 PM
  #4
Tim O'Reilly
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OK KPD, I'll bite also........

Would you have done the same column if it was Orr, Espo, Bourque or Neely that was not talking to you?

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04-21-2004, 08:53 PM
  #5
Mayhem
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KPD I think its very big of you to come here and answer your critics. I have to admit I was a bit upset by your article but in light of the new facts you have presented I was a bit taken aback. None-the-less you have certainly earned my respect and I imagine that of most of the board.

I think you have answered any questions regarding the article and then some. Whatever the case may have been regarding Joe's injuries you have to wonder what was with the smoke screen. I can certainly understand that given that the playoffs loomed on the horizon the Bruins wanted to keep that information close to the vest. If for nothing me than to keep it from becoming a target area of the opposition. What I don't understand is why he was supposedly getting closer and closer to 100%. So much so that NESN's Corey Masse quoted Sullivan as saying prior to game 6, "Number 19 is going to be good tonight." I had assumed that was in regards to his injury being a non-factor. And clearly it still had to be having some sort of effect on Joe.

I have to admit I was quite suprised upon reading about Joe's backdoor antics. Your certainly right in since he is the captain of the team he has to be if not the teams spokesperson at the very least a willing interview participant. Leads me to believe like most of had before that Joe just wasn't ready to be a captain and maybe that title should have been handed over to Lapointe. Obviously you know Joe better than most of us here, but it just seems to me like he is a quiet guy that is a bit shy around media types. Not to excuse him in anyway thats just my take.

In any case I hope you stick around and post a bit more, maybe you can break the news to us that a new CBA deal has been struck.

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04-21-2004, 08:53 PM
  #6
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I will read this tomorrow with coffee in me but I'll tell you it was an amazing article because I had friends from Dallas and Canada not on these boards know about this. I don't know if it ran in Canada papers but my buddy called me to ask me what was that all about. I hope you are not taking the summer off because agree or disagree your passion and writing talents are first rate. I've also had buddies tell me how a writer with your skill and credentials really is tuned in and not full of himself by being on these boards. I disagreed with your article and in fairness have not read above yet- but I disagree with my wife, mother, kids, dog, friends and coworkers every day also. Stay in touch- remember, you can check out but you can never leave.

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04-21-2004, 09:00 PM
  #7
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Nifty Middleton and Gord Kluzak were less than happy with the article and the timing of it and both, mainly Gord, let it be known on the NESN pregame show the other night. Is it an age issue with them? Gord just turned 40 and Nifty must be pushing 50.

I'd say that the two of them "know hockey" pretty well.

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04-21-2004, 09:02 PM
  #8
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Not every great player is cut out to be captain, and Thornton perhaps was named captain at too young an age. imo it'll be very important for the organization to get this straightened away by the next time the NHL resumes play.

It's no sin to pass off the captaincy. I think Pronger did just that thing this year, didn't he?

Anyway, happy summer everyone.

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04-21-2004, 09:04 PM
  #9
John Flyers Fan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Cherry
Nifty Middleton and Gord Kluzak were less than happy with the article and the timing of it and both, mainly Gord, let it be known on the NESN pregame show the other night. Is it an age issue with them? Gord just turned 40 and Nifty must be pushing 50.

I'd say that the two of them "know hockey" pretty well.
The "timing" of the article ? The article was written the day it was because of actions taken by Thornton (skipping out on the media). KPD didn't just wake up the day of game 7 and decide to write the article.

Also KPD isn't a PR person for the organization. His loyalty to his readers and those interested in the Bruins.

Newspaper reporters should not "root" for a team, where as TV announcers are usually tied in with the team and almost all are "homers" to a certain degree and absolutely "root" for the home team to win.

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04-21-2004, 09:04 PM
  #10
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I will second that KPD thanks for coming on here and backing what you said .....I really appreciate when you come here with information...... with that said I hope you like crow ....this all comes with growing pains and I think what you wrote will only inspire Joe.....Yzerman wasn't considered a great leader until he was 30 what???? I feel that the organization did the right thing in giving him the C.....as for the teammate saying he should have spoke to the media everybody knows he should have.....Pedro doesn't talk to the media on game day either does he???Rumpy


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04-21-2004, 09:05 PM
  #11
sarge88
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Kevin,

As I hope you have noticed, despite the fact that I haven't been your biggest fan, I've always tried to be fair.

I will try to do so again while disagreeing with your column. Here is why;

First, personally, I don't care what a player says to the media or if he talks to the media at all. They rarely say anything controversial, and as you've mentioned in the past, the articles tend to be dumbed down so as not to go over the head of the average fan. Now this opinion would change if I would one day read that a Bruin promised to take Mike Ribeiro or Andrei Markov aside and hand him his lunch. But nothing this controversial is ever said, which is why my opinion of player interviews is so low.

Second, it will never happen (Joe giving up the C) and in the end your actions (column) can be looked at as self serving and just a mechanism for trying to sell papers, get national (or Canadian) television interviews etc.

Third, as you mentioned, times have changed. The whole sports fan world has ADD (if you don't believe me, put the remote in the other room and see how long you can watch tv without it). Joe's faux-pas will be forgotten by the average Bruin fan the first time the Sox lose 2 in a row.

Lastly, despite the fact that you have an obligation to your employer. I feel there is an inherent obligation to your readers as well. Nothing good can come of this, especially since, as I mentioned, I don't feel it will ever happen. Now I am not suggesting that you become a cheerleader, but to call for Joe to resign the captaincy, is just going overboard a little. I think you could have had the same effect if you simply stated the facts and let the fans draw their own conclusions.

Again, I respect your opinion on this and all matters, I just don't agree. Maybe it is the fan in me taking over and your rational detachment as a journalist is what is making your postion the right one in this case. Either way, this is all because of an unfortunate end to a once promising season.

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04-21-2004, 09:08 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Not every great player is cut out to be captain, and Thornton perhaps was named captain at too young an age. imo it'll be very important for the organization to get this straightened away by the next time the NHL resumes play.

It's no sin to pass off the captaincy. I think Pronger did just that thing this year, didn't he?

Anyway, happy summer everyone.
Agreed. Sounds a bit like Lindros (minus the meddling parents). Lindros, pre-injury was a great player, but not captain material. He much preferred to be "one of the guys" than to be a leader.

Would it be better if the best player on every team could be a Messier/Yzerman type leader? Absolutely, but it isn't realistic.

Other players that have "suffered" while wearing the "C" include Mike Modano and Brian Leetch. Both Stanley Cup winners and possible future Hall of Famers.

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04-21-2004, 09:13 PM
  #13
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thanks for the update and your points of view. you defend yourself well. the only thing i would like to say is something my grandmother always said to me. she always said to me that when your mad, count to ten before you say anything.

my point is that maybe the article should have been written after the series instead of the next day.I think it would not have come across so harsh and would have been a little better recieved.I think readers would have concentrated more on your point instead of looking at it like the media was sour grapes and trying to stir the pot.

the article came about after bruin fans had reached maximum frustation levels and it seemed to just strike a nerve because of the timing of it all. we were ready for joe to find a way and take us on his back and the article just sort of buried him. we were not ready for that. there was still hope with one game left.

anyways, thanks for your follow up.

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04-21-2004, 09:32 PM
  #14
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KPD-

I admire the fact that you were willing to address your critics here on the board.

I disagreed with a number of issues related to your column. I respect the fact that it's your column and you've got both an obligation and a right to present your opinions, however much I might disagree with them. The one issue that I can't get over is the fact that you stated that Joe let down the team, the media and the fans. In my opinion the only snub, real or imagined and intentional or not, was to you, the media. Your impartiality towards the team is evident. At the same time, you've got to maintain a level of impartiality towards the fans as well. While I respect your opinion, I don't agree with it, so please don't voice it my name.

LP24


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04-21-2004, 09:34 PM
  #15
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Gutsy, honest response from a terrific journalist.


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04-21-2004, 09:40 PM
  #16
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Well, firstly, thanks for coming here and clarifying yourself. I think you understand and appreciate that even though there is KPD The Globe Writer criticism here it is still the best place to interact with and address your readership/fellow Boston hockey fans. I appreciate and respect you coming here to speak with us about this.
Personally, I think one big problem most people had with the column, myself included, was the timing of it. I think everybody wanted the ship to be on as calm of waters as possible on the day of game 7 vs. the Montreal Canadiens. Joe was already hurt, the last thing I wanted, personally, was a hurting, get-me-outta-this-town, disgruntled Joe Thornton heading into the biggest B's game in at least 10 years. If that column was written for next Sunday or next month you would've gotten a far less emotional crowd and a more pensive "What can we do here?" type of audience. In my post about the article I stated that I tend to agree with the assertion that Joe certainly might not be comfortable as captain and still he might not be ready to be a captain at all. But he is still only 24 years old, the captaincy was given to him by a man who was sacked 5 months later at a time when there was no other obvious candidate, IMO. If it were to be voted on today I think it might be more of a tossup, I'd go with Nick Boynton myself. But still I do not want to tear the "C" off Joe just to give it to Nick because I think thier longterm leadership potential might be the same--Nick has just matured faster. I think it would do more harm than good for the team to do that kind of thing involuntarily. The Bar for Joe as a captain/role model/spokesman is also unbelievably high. Ray Bourque was one in several million, Joe will never be that kind of ambassador no matter how hard he tries. But it should also be noted that Bourque did not take full possession of the captaincy until 1988 at the age of 27. I want to give Joe a bit more time at this before I deem him a failure.

Now, I'm in no position to give advice to journalists of 30 years, but as a fan with the same interests as you (a successful Boston Bruins team) I would say that if the writer firmly believes that the team is better suited to have a different captain then he/she has every right to write this piece as part of their job. Just like all fans have thet right to disagree with it. But, personally, I think the column angle should have been more of the "Does Joe Want to Be Captain?" angle rather than "Give him the Hook" to me the latter angle comes off as a run-a-guy-out-of town piece no matter how many valid points are made. It's too abrasive, it seems like a situation where pride has to be swallowed to accomplish what is proposed and in this day and age people don't hang around town for that---they leave. Obviously everyone here with one or two exceptions want no part of Joe leaving town EVER. So we are going to be VERY sensitive to anything that might anger him--like so many before B's we've liked before him---and have him holding out for the next plane west. The former suggestion of the two above might have been a piece that Thornton, if he really deep down wanted to gracefully step aside from the burden to him of being captain, might have considered the suggestion. If he read it. But the article didn't read like a suggestion as much it did a condemnation. I believe every critical piece is at it's best when it is predominantly constructive.

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04-21-2004, 09:40 PM
  #17
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KPD-thanks for checking in..You make some great points in your argument. You analogy of the best friends wedding is a good one.

My views as a die-heart fan when I read the article:

1) sure it would be better than not, for Thornton to talk to the media.

2) You have every right to voice your opinion on the topic, the fact that you write for the globe brings more attention to it.

3) As a heart-broken fan of the Bruins, your article for as many valid points that were made, disturbed me in its timing .....to me it couldn't have helped the outcome of Monday's game....you might not care about that....I certainly do.

4) Joe Thornton will grow as a leader....he is just 24 years old (I'm 31, I feel like I have grown up 20 years since I was 24!), and as he does these lesson's will serve him and the franchise well. I understand some of his teamates felt he should have talked to the media, and he should have..., but as a fan you didn't help the B's out Monday !

You have the job of covering the Bruins and writing how you feel....I work my tail off to support my family and make them proud of me and on the side I watch every game and dream of Stanley Cup Parade in Boston.

It isn't an age thing, why most Bruin fans disgree with you.....It's more of an agenda.

You write what's on your mind...we write and think what is in our hearts!

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04-21-2004, 09:43 PM
  #18
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Thanks for taking the time to explain yourself KPD... very classy. Your comparison of talking to the media and being the best man of a wedding and making the toast was very well done.

Has Joe explained his reasonings for not showing up to talk to the media? When Joe made the comment to the reporter in the hallway (" I'll talk to you after the game") tells me he's trying to convey that actions speak louder than words.

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04-21-2004, 09:43 PM
  #19
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I think that explanation should run in the Globe, too.
Kudos for coming on here and facing your critics Dupes.
Don't let 'em run you off the board.

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04-21-2004, 09:50 PM
  #20
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Another for those questioning the timing of the article, due to the fact that maybe it upsets Joe and throws him off his game for game 7.

You would think (hope) that your star player reads the article and then gets an "I'll show him." attitude, and then goes out and leads his team to a big win in a game 7.

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04-21-2004, 09:54 PM
  #21
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Quote:
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You would think (hope) that your star player reads the article and then gets an "I'll show him." attitude, and then goes out and leads his team to a big win in a game 7.
Exactly.

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04-21-2004, 09:54 PM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
Another for those questioning the timing of the article, due to the fact that maybe it upsets Joe and throws him off his game for game 7.

You would think (hope) that your star player reads the article and then gets an "I'll show him." attitude, and then goes out and leads his team to a big win in a game 7.
True.

But John- some guys respond to that kind of motivation and others don't.

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04-21-2004, 09:59 PM
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk- NEHJ
True.

But John- some guys respond to that kind of motivation and others don't.

True. You would hope that most would respnd that way. I know that's the attitude I'd want my franchise player to have, captain or no captain.

Maybe Joe did get that attitude, but his injuries prevented him from dominating the game. That's up for speculation.

The fact that none of his fellow teammates or the GM tired to take KPD to task for writing the article is a bit damning IMO.

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04-21-2004, 10:00 PM
  #24
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Two things come to mind...

First... You, me, and everyone else on the planet knows that Joe would have come out, pretended he wasn't injured, and sold you a cliched line of crap. Aside from the obvious discourtesy of ignoring a group of people waiting for him, is it really such a crime that the captain didn't come out and feed you cliches and lies? I prefer reading YOUR analysis and insight instead of rote, predictable, empty quotes from the players. Al Iafrate is retired, and he took all the unpredictable Bruins quotes with him.

Second, since when has Joe been the mouthpiece of the Bruins? That role has been handled by Lapointe, Rolston and Knuble for the duration of Joe's captaincy. Joe's off-ice maturity issues have been extremely well-documented. He's obviously still got some growing up to do. I have no problem with Joe delegating that part of the role of Captain in the meantime while he develops as a leader. I don't understand why, all of a sudden, at Game 7 against the Canadiens, you're all of a sudden demanding his quote or his "C."

It just seemed excessively dramatic, and a little overblown in light of the fact that you took his slighting the media a lot harder than your readers did (understandably so).

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04-21-2004, 10:01 PM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
Another for those questioning the timing of the article, due to the fact that maybe it upsets Joe and throws him off his game for game 7.

You would think (hope) that your star player reads the article and then gets an "I'll show him." attitude, and then goes out and leads his team to a big win in a game 7.
or you'd think there was enough pressure in the fact that it was a game 7, that to have an article written suggesting the captaincy should be take from you as a player is over-board.


I hear what you're saying, and he might grow into that kinda of captain, but if he was taking pain killers...and couldn't dial up his "A" GAME....the article could have been the final thing to beat him down. I don't think the argument that "it could have got him going." makes much sense in this instance.

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